Friday, August 19, 2011

Time Management - Lesson #1

I recently received an inquiry from a client with respect to managing her time at the office.

Seems her employer expects her to respond to her voice mail messages as soon as they're received and to leave an outgoing message that says she'll respond to all voice mail messages within the hour.

Personally, I don't like this method for two major reasons:
  1. By allowing only a one-hour window of opportunity during which to return calls, you're not allowing for emergencies, other clients, and ... lunch! If anything time-consuming happens during that hour, you'll break your promise--which is recorded for all the world to hear.
  2. You're setting a precedent. If you inform people that you'll respond instantly to their requests, they'll believe you ... and expect you to do it in the future. All the time. No matter what.
I prefer recording an outgoing message that says I'll return all calls by the end of the day and asking callers to return to the operator if they have an emergency or a situation that can't wait until the end of the day. This alleviates any "issues" created by #1 and #2 above:
  1. You're allowing yourself time to handle emergencies, other clients, and lunch. If you can return a call in 15 minutes, or 60 minutes, then you've not only kept your promise, you've done so in a super-efficient way. And if you return someone's call at 5:00 p.m. (or whenever your office closes), you're a person of your word.
  2. You're not setting a precedent and you're letting people know that emergencies are handled immediately and non-emergencies are handled on the same day they arise. Sounds reasonable, and professional to me.
What do YOU think your outgoing voicemail message should say? And why?

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